Increasing your total number of sales starts with increasing your total number of leads. That's because, as you've probably heard several times by now, sales is a numbers game – your success is directly based on how many prospects you talk to.
The sales pipeline is built not like an oil pipeline, but like a pyramid. The beginning stage is the broadest with tons of unqualified leads coming in. At each stage, prospects drop out of your pipeline as they decide they're not interested or you decide they're not qualified. As a result, you might need 100 leads to get 10 appointments to get one sale. That's why it's a terrible idea to stop prospecting, even if you feel like you have tons of sales to work with right now. You need to keep those leads coming into your pipeline so that once you finish with your current pack of prospects, you have a new bunch ready to come in.
Understanding Your Pipeline Percentages
In order to increase sales, you'll need to understand your own pipeline percentages. Start by tracking each first contact you make with a lead – you need to know exactly how many leads you contacted and exactly how many of these leads generated appointments. As you go on appointments, keep track of how many of these appointments you were able to close. Once you have those numbers, you'll know exactly how many prospects you'll need to contact in order to increase sales by the desired amount.
Sourcing Your Leads
Naturally, dialing your way through the phone book is not an effective way to source leads. The better qualified your leads are, the less time you'll waste talking to people who aren't actually candidates for your products. In essence, prospecting is finding people who have a problem that your product can solve, and offer it to them in a way that shows them the solution.
So the better qualified your leads are, the higher the percentage that you'll be able to turn into sales (and thus the more total sales you'll make). Getting those qualified leads will either cost you time or cost you money. In other words, you can either pay someone to collect qualified leads for you or you can collect them yourself.
Once you've got your leads together, the next step in increasing sales is improving your initial contact, so that you can book a higher percentage of appointments. Most salespeople use cold calling over the phone to get those appointments, but you also have the option of sending an email or even direct mail. Still, it's likely that at some point you'll end up talking on the phone with your prospects... so building a good phone script is crucial to creating productive phone calls. That doesn't mean reading word-for-word in a robotic voice – it means preparing answers ahead of time to the questions you hear most often so that you have a jumping-off point to answer those questions smoothly.
Finally, you can increase sales by improving the percentage of appointments you're able to close. This usually means polishing your presentation and getting better at answering customer objections. If your presentation is solid but your conversion rate is still lower than you'd like, it's probably time to work on your closing skills.
If you speak with enough prospects, you will get sales regardless of your selling skills. But if you improve your performance in each step of the sales cycle, you will reduce the number of prospect contacts you have to make per sale – in essence working smarter, not harder.